'Deadpool 2' again mixes humor and action

By Tom Von Malder | Aug 26, 2018
Photo by: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) poses between Domino (Zazie Beets) and Cable (Josh Brolin) in "Deadpool 2."

Owls Head — Deadpool 2 (20th Century Fox, 2 Blu-ray, NR/R, 133/119 min., or 1 standard DVD, R, 119 min.). The superhero genre barely survives a second assault by the Deadpool team, headed by returning actor/co-producer/co-writer Ryan Reynolds and new director David Leitch ("Atomic Blonde," "John Wick"). The raucous, self-deprecating film is a tad below the first "Deadpool," but much of that is because the surprise element is not there. The Blu-ray edition comes with two discs: one with the theatrical version and a bunch of extras; the second, an unrated cut that is 14 minutes longer, the so-called "Super Duper Cut," which is reviewed here. It should be noted that the two versions sometimes have different words or lines in the same scenes.

The film opens and closes with funny references to "Logan," after all "Deadpool 2" was advertized as being from "the company that killed off Wolverine." Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, has a superpower of miraculous healing powers, but his healing also can be negated by the neck bands that dampens any superpowers, thus leading to a lengthy prison sequence. First though, Deadpool is kicking some Hong Kong bad guys in an unusual pool sequence, with a montage of kills set to Dolly Parton singing "9 to 5." We also get reacquainted with get-away driver Dopinder (Karan Soni) and Wade's girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin of TV's Gotham"; see below), before Celine Dion sings a very good James Bond-like opening-credits song.

The main action of the film concerns Deadpool's attempts to save a young boy (Julian Dennison as Russell Collins/Firefist, 14) who is being tortured by the fascist headmaster (Eddie Marsan) of the Essex House for mutant rehabilitation (that is, reprogramming). Yes, Firefist can launch balls of fire from his hands. While Deadpool manages to stop Firefist's rampage, both are arrested and sent to prison. Before encountering Firefirst, Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) brings Deadpool to Professor X's school so he can become an X-Men trainee.

While Deadpool and Firefist are in prison, Cable (Josh Brolin, who recently voiced Thanos in "Avengers: Infinity War," which is the subject of a throw-away joke here) arrives and starts shooting-up the joint. Deadpool thinks Cable is after him, but Cable, who is from the future, actually is after Russell, who grows up to be a major villain. Cable very much has the appearance of a Terminator type. It turns out that Cable and Deadpool have suffered similar tragedies. Once free, Deadpool decides to form his own X-Force to combat Cable. They include Domino (Zazie Beets), whose superpower is luck, Shatterstar (Lewis Tan), Zeitgeist (Bill Skarsgard), Bedlam (Terry Crews) and Vanisher (one of the film's surprise cameos; look elsewhere for Matt Damon, Alan Tudyk and six members of the X-Men). The X-Force sequence, including their recruitment and first foray into battle, is one of the funnier segments in the film.

Meanwhile, Firefist has teamed up with another comic book legend, who just happens to be voiced by Reynolds, not to confuse things. In addition to the cameos, which includes Reynolds onscreen as himself and a wicked "Green Lantern" reference (Reynolds starred in the film, which generally bombed, although I enjoyed it), the film is full of wisecracks and visual references -- almost as much as "Ready Player One."

Extras include audio commentary by Leitch, Reynolds, co-screenwriters/co-executive producers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick on the theatrical version only; 1 deleted and 1 extended scene (2:36 total); a gag reel (3:11); a look at the characters (15:09); and a look at the prison sequence (11:28). Highlight extras include alternate takes (9:25); a look at secrets and Easter eggs, including the celebrity cameos (12:52); and a look at Leitch's direction (11:39). There also are short bits on Rob Delaney as the X-Force's Peter (2:21), chess with Omega Red (2:14); the sexiness of the cast (2:12); and a monologue by Brolin during his make-up session (2:14, even though it is called a 3-minute monologue). Finally, there is Deadpool's Fun Sack, which includes stills (2:23) and 17 videos and film trailers (35:22), including a Dion music video , a making-of the music video, some Deadpool painting, Deadpool merchandise taking over the Manchester football (soccer) club, and Deadpool changing into his uniform in a small phone booth while a man is being mugged (this funny bit includes a Stan Lee cameo). Grade: film 3.75 stars; extras 3.5 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Book Club (Paramount, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 103 min.). The film is the story of four supportive friends who have been meeting in  a weekly book club for 40 years. The topnotch actresses playing the four are Deane Keaton as Diane, who has not remarried after her husband's death and whose two daughters want her to move in with them because they fear she is susceptible to accidents due to her age; Jane Fonda as Vivian, who owns a hotel in Los Angeles and considers men as mere dalliances; Candice Bergen as Sharon, a federal judge who has not had sex in 18 years; and Mary Steenburgen as restaurateur Carol, whose marriage to Bruce (Craig T. Nelson) has turned sexless since his retirement.

Diane's opening narration tells the histories of the four women. Then, the film switches to the book club meeting at which Vivian brings "Fifty Shades of Grey" as the next book to read. ("Grey" author E.L. James has a cameo in the film.) It could have been any other "erotic" book though as, while it serves to get the women thinking about their romantic lives, no one follows up on the book's themes of dominance and sadomasochism. Sharon, in fact, thinks they are too old for romance. Vivian counters, "The book is a wake-up call."

Events in the film have Vivian reconnect with Arthur (Don Johnson), a lover of 40 years ago. Diane meets Mitchell (Andy Garcia) on a plane -- he turns out to be a pilot -- and they start dating. Sharon tries online dating, which leads to dates with George (Richard Dreyfuss) and Dr. Derek (Wallace Shawn). Meanwhile, Carol keeps trying to interest Bruce in sex, even though he seems more interested in an old motorcycle, and she ropes him into dance lessons for an upcoming talent show.

Despite all the talent here and the ease with which the four female stars interact, the film is not very interesting. Part of the problem is first-time director Bill Holderman, who co-wrote the script with Erin Simms, does not challenge the actors to do very much. While sometimes there is charm -- the dance scene especially -- there is no zing in the script.

Bonus features look at starting the script (10:56), with Simms' stepmother serving as the model for Carol and her mother for Sharon, while Holderman's mother became Vivian and Diane was written with Keaton in mind. There also are looks at the cast (13:43), the locations (9:48; a lot about filming in Los Angeles); the friendship and continuing to live with a new chapter of life (9:03); seven deleted, two alternate and four extended scenes (11:11), with the best deleted scene being a funny sequence of Diane going through airport security and an extended version of the engagement party scene, with Dr. Derek DJing as I expected he would, although he did not in the finished film. There also is a look at Katharine McPhee recording "Living in the Moment," the film's end credits song. Grade: film 2.5 stars; extras 3 stars

Higher Power (Magnet/Magnolia, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 92 min.). The film is the directorial debut of visual effects artist Matthew Charles Santoro, who also co-wrote the underwhelming, yet still confusing script. The first half is incredibly slow and uninvolving, with too many computer graphics as lead character Joseph Steadman (Ron Eldard) is watched by a shadowy scientist (Colm Feore), and then last half-hour is all CGI special effects. Even when Santoro shoots "normal" live-action scenes, it is often through a fence. Santoro also co-edited the film, which is presented as mostly found footage.

Santoro worked on the special effects for several "X-Men" films, the 2008 version of "The Incredible Hulk," "300" and "Fantastic Four," while the producers of this film also brought us "Transformers" and "G.I. Joe." The premise of the film is laughable. Supposedly when a star dies, it sends out a destructive gamma ray and Michael Swaford (Austin Stowell of "Colossal") is sure one is headed for Earth as an extinction-level event. The scientist is testing subjects top see who is suitable for basically transforming into a god, as the film later says, so they can protect the Earth from harm. Apparently, to change Steadman into this CGI power, the scientist must threaten Steadman's two daughters: Zoe (Jordan Hinson), who ignores him after Steadman got into substance abuse after his wife's death from cancer; and 17-year-old Rhea (Marielle Jaffe), a drug addict. For some unexplained reason or happenstance, Swaford just happens to be semi-dating Zoe, who is putting herself through nursing school.

There are no bonus features. Grade: film 1.5 stars

NCIS: Los Angeles: Season 9 (CBS/Paramount, 6 DVDs, NR, 16 hours 58 min.). The set contains all 24 episodes of the series that stars Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J as undercover agents "G" Callen and Sam Hanna, respectively. Linda Hunt plays Henrietta "Hetty" Lange, who handles the politics of the job. Cases involve counterfeit currency from Peru, Sam undercover as a day trader, a takeover of nuclear weapons at a launch facility, a ransom-ware attack that takes out all electricity in Western Los Angeles, Hetty captured and tortured in Vietnam, an undercover spy with an arsenal of bomb materials, Callen's father apprehended in Iran, a killer who puts on shows for high-paying voyeurs, a Bitcoin heist, the remains of a failed rocket launch and the threat of a North Korean attack. Guest stars include Eddie George, Kip Pardue and Pamela Reed.

Bonus features include deleted and extended scenes, a look at Hanna's art of disguise, a look at the season with behind-the-scenes interviews of the cast and producers, meeting transplants Executive Assistant Director Shay Mosley (Nia Long), the team's new overseer, and Special Agent Harley Hidoko (Andrea Bordeaux), and a celebration of the show's 200th episode.

Criminal Minds: Season 13 (CBS/Paramount, 6 DVDs, NR, 15 hours 29 min.). The show about FBI profilers in the Behavioral Analysis Unit includes Joe Mantegna as Agent David Rossi, a founding member. Also on the team are Special Agents Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster), formerly of Interpol, and Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler); Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (A.J. Cook); Penelope Garcia (Kristen Vangsness), the computer wizard; Dr. Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler), a forensic psychologist; Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez), a tracker recruited from the FBI's Fugitive Task Force; and new member Special Agent Matt Simmons, an ex-Delta soldier.

Following a coordinated strike against them and a tragic loss, the team must come together. Cases include escaped serial killer Peter Lewis, multiple deaths in Naples, Florida and Detroit, Michigan, a workplace shooting involving a drone, several missing women, three abductees who surface with no memories of what happened, two deaths in a Roswell, New Mexico conspiracy group, backyard pool homicides in California, secrets in a small Virginia town, brutal attacks in New York City's Central Park, and a murderous clown in Oklahoma. Guest stars include Shemar Noore (a former "Criminal Minds" star), Jamie Kennedy and Lou Diamond Phillips.

Bonus features include a conversation with the cast and producers about the season; Tyler discussing her experience directing an episode for the first time; Rodriguez talking about his experience directing and the story arc of select episodes; a look at Kennedy's recreation of the serial killer he portrayed seven years ago; a Q&A with the cast about being a real FBI agent; a table read for the "Missed Signals" episode; deleted and extended scenes; a gag reel; and the pilot episodes of "SEAL Team" and "Bull."

If you appreciated reading this news story and want to support local journalism, consider subscribing today.
Call (207) 594-4401 or join online at knox.villagesoup.com/join.
Donate directly to keeping quality journalism alive at knox.villagesoup.com/donate.
Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.